By Henry Chard
WHEN AND WHERE…
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches face the Swindon Robins at the Abbey Stadium on Thursday 17th October in a Premiership Play-Off final fixture that starts at 7.30pm, live on BT Sport.
SWINDON: 1. Jason Doyle 8.96 © 2. Adam Ellis 6.49 3. Tobiasz Musielak 6.21 4. Rasmus Jensen 7.86 5. Troy Batchelor 8.82 6. Ellis Perks 3.57 7. Claus Vissing 4.43. Team Manager: Alun Rossiter
IPSWICH: 1.Niels-Kristian Iversen 7.54 2. Danny King 6.83 © 3. Richard Lawson 5.78 4. Chris Harris 6.16 5. Cameron Heeps 6.30 6. Jake Allen 5.56 7. James Sarjeant 3.26. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
REFEREE: C. Turnbull
VENUE: Abbey Stadium
FINAL PREMIERSHIP TABLE
PREMIERSHIP PLAY-OFF FIXTURES
Poole 50-40 Ipswich (1st Leg), Ipswich 54-36 Poole (2nd Leg)
Wolverhampton 39-49 Swindon (1st Leg), Swindon 58-32 Wolverhampton (2nd Leg)
Ipswich 41-49 Swindon (1st Leg), Swindon v Ipswich (Oct 17)
WHAT’S THE STORY?
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches race their final meeting of the 2019 season as they travel to Swindon for the second leg of the Premiership Play-Off final. The two sides met at Foxhall on Tuesday as the Robins came away with a 41-49 victory that makes them firm favourites to finish the job off on home shale and lift the trophy. However, this Witches side have not got to the Premiership Play-Off final without a fight and although the task is a hard one, it is far from impossible. Ipswich were 10 points down after the first leg of the semi-final and managed to overcome reigning champions Poole in the second leg at Foxhall. Although the circumstances are different this time around, having the second leg away from home, the Witches will give it everything they have got one last time.
Ipswich are unchanged for this clash but there is a switch in riding order as Ritchie Hawkins shuffles his pack. Captain Danny King moves to number two with Cameron Heeps going to number five. Richard Lawson swaps with Chris Harris to move from number four to three and reserve Jake Allen switches to number six with James Sarjeant going to seven. It has been a mixed bag of results at the Abbey for the Witches this season. The Suffolk side suffered a 51-39 defeat early on in the season in a Supporters Cup tie before losing 46-44 in the league after losing out in a last-heat decider. Their most recent visit was one to forget as the Robins ran riot winning 66-24, as team changes by the management followed soon after.
There will be a large away following in Wiltshire with plenty of fans from Suffolk making the long journey down and the Witches will be hoping to produce a magnificent comeback to make it a happy trip home as they look to end 2019 as Premiership champions.
FROM THE MANAGER…
‘Tru Plant’ Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins looks ahead to Thursday’s clash…
“It is a big ask of course, it was a big ask before we started. We go into Thursday with the mindset of clawing ourselves back into the meeting, winning the tie and taking the title. It would be an amazing achievement and a massive shock, but strange things happen and why can’t we do it?
“I don’t think previous results have much relevance on Thursday. We are starting eight points down with 15 heats to go and we have got to fight as hard as we can and that is all we can do. If we leave on Thursday knowing we put everything into it, either way we can hold our heads up high.
“Eight points can be clawed back in two heats, we can do it. Like I said we are massive underdogs, even more so now but we will go there and do the town proud. I am sure plenty of fans will be there cheering us on until the end and we will fight until the end because that is what they deserve.”
Swindon go into the second leg with an eight-point lead, putting them in a very strong position to go on and win the title. The Robins are unbeaten at home in 2019 in all competitions, the last time they did not win at the Abbey was back in May as Poole held them to a 45-45 draw. Since then they have been dominant on home shale and the Robins have won all home three meetings against the Witches this year. The Wiltshire club won the Premiership in 2017 and a win on Thursday would see them claim a domestic double having already won the Premiership Supporters Cup.
As we all know, the Robins have a powerful side. Former world champion Jason Doyle spearheads the side, with a former Grand Prix rider Troy Batchelor at five. Add into that Rasmus Jensen who is averaging over nine points at home this season, Adam Ellis and Tobiasz Musielak and you have a formidable top five. With home advantage in the second leg and the Premiership trophy waiting on the centre green, the Robins will be determined to make it a night to remember for their club.
ON THE ROAD…
Swindon ride in red and orange kevlars with white and black and race at the Abbey Stadium. The track measures at 315 metres with the track record belonging to Jason Doyle who set a time of 60.30 in July of 2019. An adult ticket costs £18, concessions £15, children (aged 11-16) £5 and children under the age of 11 go free. For travel information head here.
For more information about the club head to Swindon’s official website.